Happy Freedom Day
By David Van Os
Today after President Obama addressed the nation my father, Seymour Van Os of Tyler, Texas, called me to share his exultation over the end of the Bush regime and the beginning of the historic Obama presidency.
I asked Dad which part of Obama’s speech he liked the best. His answer was "every word of it". So I asked my dad, "Well how would you sum up the meaning of the speech?" Without hesitation he replied, "We’re free of Bush and Cheney; free at last, great God Almighty, we’re free at last!"
Then my dad, age 86, told me he’s never been this happy and excited about a new president in his whole life. I asked him, "Is it just because Bush is gone?" He said, "That’s half of it, but it’s also because of who Barack Obama is, what he stands for, and what he said to us today."
To be sure, there are issues on which I already disagree with President Obama’s tactics, and there will be more disagreements as time goes by. But there is a huge difference between having disagreements with Barack Obama over policy choices and experiencing daily revulsion over George Bush’s relentless ignorance of our Constitution and unending disdain for the ideals it represents.
There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama understands and believes in the fundamental vision expressed in our founding documents, and that he has entered service to the nation in the presidency for the purpose of moving us as a people in a forward direction toward realization of that majestic vision. There is also no doubt in my mind that we must work hard to push upward on him to make the best choices; however that is not a criticism of the moment, but rather a recognition that in democracy power is supposed to move upward from the people, not downward from a glorious leader.
When President Obama is not doing enough we must press him vigorously to do more, and when he is wrong in policies or tactics we must endeavor to correct him, and as intensely as the moment may demand; but knowing that we have a president who actually believes in the historic legacy and ideals of this country – and whose personal story demonstrates tangible pieces of the vision – is in itself sufficient cause for the jubilation that so many billions of people all over our planet feel today, which I share, at this wonderful moment in history.
By electing Barack Obama, we the people of America constructed a magnificent moment of opportunity for our country and its future. It is up to us to utilize this opportunity. Tomorrow we must roll up our sleeves and go to work to remake America alongside our vibrant new President, agreeing with him when he is right and correcting him when he is wrong.
And from now on, taking a cue from my honored and beloved parent, I will think of January 20, 2009 as a new Freedom Day in the history of our country. Happy Freedom Day, America!
David Van Os